Michigan Football Recruiting: Wolverines Continue to Struggle with NIL

Michigan Basketball Introduces Dusty May
Michigan Basketball Introduces Dusty May / Luke Hales/GettyImages

After gaining tons of momentum over the past few weeks, it appears that Michigan football's achilles heel has come back again: NIL. A shocking announcement was made on Wednesday when elite running back Marquise Davis announced his commitment to Kentucky. The unfortunate truth is that Michigan football lost this recruitment at least partially due to money.

Kentucky has been a consistent thorn in Michigan's side, and the Wolverines just continue to let the Wildcats have their way with recruits that Michigan football should be landing. The WIldcats are a very NIL-friendly team. Despite their lack of success on the field, they continue to steal recruits from Michigan's grasp.

Losing out on Davis hurts badly. Tony Alford did a phenomenal job to put Michigan in the driver's seat, and honestly, it seemed as though the Wolverines were going to land Davis. All predictions were in favor of Michigan football, and Kentucky wasn't even viewed as a serious threat; this was perceived as a Michigan vs Ohio State battle.

For all the talk we've heard about Michigan upping its NIL game, the Wolverines still have no financial incentives for recruits to commit to them. Yes, Michigan's star players are making hundreds of thousands of dollars, maybe even into the millions, but at the end of the day, recruiting has changed. To be a legitimate recruiting power, you need to be willing to offer recruits some kind of financial guarantee. And Michigan has not.

Yes, Michigan won a National Championship without paying recruits. But NIL was not a thing until most of Michigan's team was already enrolled. Michigan likely doesn't land Will Johnson, Donovan Edwards, Mason Graham, Junior Colson and the rest of their highly ranked recruits in the NIL era.

The future is up in the air if Michigan doesn't figure this out

The 2024 season should be great. The Wolverines will have possibly the best defense in the country and, with good quarterback play, will be a championship contender. But after that, who knows?

With back-to-back recruiting classes rated around 20th in the nation and the 2025 class not looking like a huge improvement, Michigan won't have the same caliber recruits they had from 2021-2024. It's tough to see Michigan football sustaining this immense success without an NIL overhaul in terms of recruiting.

With legislation being passed and the NCAA moving closer and closer to a revenue sharing model that would allow teams to pay their players directly, Michigan could get some much needed assistance. But that's all speculation for now. What we do know is that Michigan's NIL is not where it should be.


With the brand and alumni that Michigan has, it should be atop the NIL world, not beneath it. Athletic Director Warde Manuel and the rest of the Michigan administration needs to give Michigan sports the resources to succeed at the highest level. The University of Michigan should not lose players due to a lack of resources. Let's hope for some positive changes in the near future.